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More Business Ideas on a Budget

10 Legitimate Business Ideas You Can Start for Less Than $20

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6. Personal Services - Shopping & Errands

This is a great one going into the holiday season. Believe it or not, there are people who wouldn't be caught dead going anywhere near a mall, but they're not comfortable with buying certain items online, either. Again, trustworthiness and dependability are the key traits for this. If your car's not reliable, pick something else. Also, you won't need cash, but you'll need available credit on your credit cards, since you really can't use theirs. Consider an American Express or a Diner's Club that don't have preset spending limits. Or use a card that gives cash back reward or frequent flyer miles, and you'll make a nice little bonus for yourself.

Spend the $20 on: $1 on flyers and the rest on classified ads.

7. Desktop Publishing

It's amazing how many people have a computer and still don't know how to make a decent flyer! If you've got a good design sense, are extremely familiar with your word processor, and already have a laser or high-quality inkjet printer, you can get into desktop publishing. Create a really great-looking portfolio for yourself and go door-to-door.

Spend the $20 on: Some high-quality paper to create your samples on.

8. Tutoring

With the growing dissatisfaction with our education system and the huge growth in homeschooling, there's an unprecedented need for tutors these days for kids of all ages-even adults! If you've got a topic you can tutor in, contact the local schools, particularly private ones, and local homeschool groups, and offer your services. Don't be concerned if your topic is highly specialized-even those are in demand.

Spend the $20 on: $14 on a box of clean-edge laser or inkjet business cards and $6 on flyers.

9. eBay Seller

Yes, there really are people who make a decent living buying things at garage sales and flea markets and selling them on eBay. The big secrets? Stick to products you know (or learn before you start) extremely well, package your goods carefully, and provide impeccable customer service. It helps to have a digital camera or a scanner, but it's not required.

Spend the $20 on: Your first inventory at a garage sale.

10. Secretarial Service - Typing / Transcription / Proofreading

Many small businesses and individuals have a need for these services, but not enough need to hire a temp through an agency. Assuming you've got a computer, a printer, and e-mail (and the necessary skills), you're all set. Be prepared to charge by the job, not by the hour.

Spend the $20 on: $14 on a box of clean-edge laser or inkjet business cards and $6 on flyers.

One last thing-beware of home-based business scams that require a substantial buy-in, such as envelope-stuffing or craft item assembly. You may not lose money on it if you stick with it long enough to get really fast at it, but you'll probably never make the kind of money you're expecting to. Better to do something on your own.

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